The answer: In addition to the menu revamp, 2018 marks the first year in Ted’s history that the company has a full advertising plan for every single unit in the footprint. “That’s challenging,” Martin says. “You don’t have one marketing media plan that blankets 45 restaurants. You have 45 individual, very different plans. It’s a lot of work, but well worth it.”
Martin adds that Ted’s knew it had to do something different, something very actionable. This manifests in social media pages for every restaurant. Digital plans for every location for messaging through digital and social platforms. Some traditional tossed in, but approached differently. For example, in the larger markets—Colorado (nine) and Atlanta (13)—Ted’s produced videos to focus on branding and to tell its story through partnerships with Comcast and Hulu.
Ted’s isn’t like many of its counterparts when it comes to messaging, either. The brand doesn’t discount and isn’t apt to roll out a limited-time offer just to drum up interest and have something to push via external media. Martin says this campaign is intended to just tell Ted’s story, and to draw guests into its “authenticity, the bison, the local, truly from scratch, no microwaves, no freezers,” picture that she knows resonates with guests. She has the data to prove it, after all.
The loyal users surveyed said Ted’s got a lot of things right. In fact, customers overwhelmingly wanted more of what the brand was great at, not less. Things like elevated fare, local specials unique to each market, and a brand that felt more like a local hangout more than a conglomerate of national eateries.
"[Discounting] really wouldn’t work for the brand. This is about rooting ourselves in our communities," Martin says. "This is about staying true to our values. One of our core values is steadfast. Ted is very steadfast. We’re very steadfast in making sure we have a filter that in our messaging so it doesn’t become promotion and we don’t lose our authenticity."
Yet satisfying that request can be a delicate equation. Martin says Ted’s wanted to expand and enhance its menu without overloading its operations and fracturing the consistency it appreciates around the country. One key solution: redesigning the menu as much as adding to it.
The main thing Ted’s did was separate its offerings into more distinct categories—starters, side salads, entrée salads, burgers, of course, but then also poultry, seafood, bison, and steaks. This was a big change from the “classics,” “sandwiches,” “entrees” type of breakdowns before, where certain items may have been glossed over under a generalized structure. Breaking the proteins apart made it clearer that Ted’s was offering top-notch items across multiple categories, distinct to those categories.
And Ted’s added new, customer-tested and approved items across the menu to freshen up those breakdowns. The brand tested the new menu in seven restaurants across the country, starting in January and running right to the April debut. About four weeks in, Ted’s made a few changes based on sales and feedback. One was to scrap a steak frites offering that did well as a past feature, but wasn’t lighting “anybody on fire,” Martin says. Ted’s didn’t want to burden the back-of-the-house with any item that wasn’t a sure hit.
Here are the highlights:
- Salmon Burger—enhanced with fresh lemon, the burger is finished with smoky bacon and a fried egg. The burger is then topped with a cool dill cream sauce and fresh, locally sourced arugula and a grilled tomato
- Turkey Burger—seasoned with fresh chopped basil and grilled to perfection with melted Pepper Jack cheese, Sriracha aioli and fresh arugula
- George’s Classic Cadillac—a time-honored Ted’s favorite that will now revert back to the original recipe of cheddar cheese, bacon and tangy barbecue sauce—served with a side of yellow mustard
- 1977 America’s Cup—an ode to Ted Turner’s win of the 1977 America’s Cup, the hand-crafted burger is topped with American Cheese, smoky bacon, grilled onions and a fried egg on a brioche bun
- Bison Chopped Steak—expertly seasoned and grilled to temperature, finished with house-made brown gravy, grilled onions and mushrooms
- New York Strip—hand-cut in the in-restaurant butcher shop, the New York Strip is what Ted’s considers the “steak lover’s steak”—offered in both beef and bison
- Blue Cheese Bacon Butter & Spiced Coffee Rub—scratch-made and an available accompaniment to any of Ted’s six signature steak cuts
- Enhanced Side Dishes—sautéed Brussels sprouts, green beans and cauliflower, creamed spinach, roasted asparagus and chef’s featured vegetables
- Strawberry Shortcake—the colossal Strawberry shortcake is artfully and architecturally prepared to leave a long lasting, spring-inspired and tasteful impression.